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What is a living will and why should you have one?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2020 | Estate Planning |

The effects of age, as well as unexpected accidents and illnesses, may leave you unable to care or speak for yourself. In such circumstances, the responsibility of making medical-related decisions on your behalf may fall to your loved ones.

Without your voice there to guide them, making caregiving and end-of-life decisions for you may place an immense emotional burden on those who mean the most to you. Through a living will, however, you may express your wishes and help prevent causing your loved ones to experience conflicts or further distress.

Preparing for life’s unexpected and anticipated events

According to, a living will serves to inform your physicians and next of kin your preferences regarding end-of-life medical care. A legally binding document, your living will gives you a voice in the event that physical or mental incapacitation prevents you from making decisions and speaking for yourself.

Specifying your wishes when you cannot speak

While you may not anticipate all life-threatening medical care questions, you may provide guidelines regarding the types of treatments you would and would not want. For example, your living will may give direction that you do not wish to receive procedures such as the use of a defibrillator, mechanical ventilation for breathing or dialysis. Additionally, you may indicate the situations in which you would or would not want such treatments. You may, for instance, not want to receive CPR if you have no chance of survival.

In your living will, you may also indicate your preferences regarding palliative care. This may include specifying that you would prefer to die at home rather than in the hospital, or that you do not wish to undergo invasive testing. Your living will may also dictate any spiritual or religious considerations you may have regarding your end-of-life care.

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